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interviews | February 07, 2023

Meet the Jury Interview
Ala Hamdan


Ala Hamdan is a film director and a visual storyteller. She studied filmmaking and screenwriting at NYFA Florence and New York. As the co-founder of At Films, a media production and training company, she conducted projects with the UN, UNDP, Sadeem, LG, Adidas, Roya TV, and others. Her projects focus on social justice, uplifting causes, and valuable educational content.
Besides, Ala is a passionate juror eager to watch creative works from all over the world.

We are thrilled to have you on the jury for the 2023 US International Awards. What was the decisive factor that made you participate?

Being a jury member is truly rewarding. Firstly, I get to give credits where credits are due and therefore be one of the reasons a good work has reached a wider audience and a better screen. Adding to that is the opportunity to meet different experts in the film industry from around the world and exchange knowledge. Lastly, the inspiration I get after watching several artworks and seeing how the film industry is never the same, never boring, and is always bringing something new to the table.

What projects have you done so far? Are there projects that stand out for you personally and what was the most challenging project you worked on so far?

I have worked on several uplifting projects such as commercials and TVCs. But the projects I mostly relate to are related to human rights, specifically women. Two in particular, one was a short drama about domestic violence and another was a documentary about womenpreneur in the MENA region. This second project was challenging as it took place in 3 countries in a short period of time and also due to the number of great stories we recorded and had to be cut down to a few questions to be able to create a documentary with a reasonable length to watch.

What are you currently working on? And what else is planned for the upcoming time?

We are currently working on a web series related to women's empowerment. Helping women who live in rural areas grow their home businesses. Adding to that is a project linked to the holy month of Ramadan, which will be a 30-day LIVE screening on a TV channel.

You were awarded several awards yourself. What does an award represent to you?

An award is a recognition and a reminder. Each reward reminds me of what I love doing. Films! It also gives me the power I need to keep creating.

In your opinion, what makes a “good” documentary? Alas, what are you looking for in a winning entry?

Storytelling is everything. You could have great footage, yet the story does not come together smoothly. I am looking for a great story supported by artistic footage.

Are there any tips for potential entrants? Production-wise and presentation-wise?

Technicals help: A good DOP, great coloring, and designing music, however, they all won’t get you anywhere without a powerful story or great storytelling techniques.


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September 26, 2023

Meet the Jury Interview
Ewa Ewart


Ewa Ewart is a journalist and an award-winning filmmaker who specializes in groundbreaking and influential documentaries. Born and raised in Poland, she spent most of her career based at BBC TV in London, England. She has traveled and worked in many countries, producing and directing programs ranging from investigations and political to social observational documentaries. 

We are thrilled to have you on the jury for the 2024 US International Awards. Please tell us more about your work background and your everyday work life. Could you also tell us what you enjoy the most in your job? 

My journalistic background is in TV News. I learned about documentary filmmaking at the BBC in London. Back in the 1990s, it was a golden era for documentaries. There was money, and we traveled the world making films on various fascinating and relevant subjects. It was an inspiring stretch of my work as a filmmaker, and it lasted a good few years. I am now a freelancer and enjoy the freedom of freelancing offers. However, raising funds for a project can sometimes be daunting and time-consuming. I never had to worry about getting budgets for my films while working for the BBC. 

What do you enjoy the most in your job?

I love the documentary format for many reasons, but one is of critical importance: documentaries offer you enough space to tell what happened and why it happened. It was the main reason I eventually had enough of news. This format often leaves the viewer with many unanswered questions. In a documentary, you have time and space to create in-depth context for complex events and make them easier for a wider audience to understand.

You have made plenty of films - are there projects that stand out for you personally? 

When I work on a film, it always seems unique and the most important thing to me. But there are some films I made that I still feel attached to personally. “Children of Beslan” is one of them. It is the story of the tragedy that happened on September 1, 2004, when a group of heavily armed Chechen rebel extremists stormed into School No 1 in Beslan, Russia. For three days, more than a thousand children and adults were held hostage in a sweltering gym, denied food and water, and forced to keep their hands over their heads. The siege ended three days later when Russian Special Forces stormed the school to free the hostages. A series of explosions and an exchange of gunfire killed over 350 people- half of them children. I chose to tell this story with the words of those who survived- young heroes; the youngest was six, and the oldest was 12. I worked on that film for nearly a year, traveled many times to Beslan, and got close to these exceptional children. This experience is still very vivid.

What are you currently working on? And what else is planned for the upcoming time?

The year 2023 is proving to be busy. I will have made two 60-minute plus documentaries by the time it ends. "Until the Last Drop" is a film about rivers and people, their relationship, and interconnectedness. It tells a story of despair but also of determination and hope. The film exposes how human activity is a leading cause of a growing freshwater crisis. However, it shows we can also be part of the solution and tells the inspiring story of how people fight until the last drop to protect rivers worldwide.

My current film – working title "Magda"- is of a very different kind, based on the main character's video diary. It tells her extraordinary journey while living with breast cancer. It is a moving and inspiring story of a woman who decided to live and took up the challenge of fighting the disease.

You were awarded several awards yourself. What does an award represent to you?

I always accept an award as a recognition for the work of my entire team, who helped to create the film. It is never my film or my award. It is always a team effort, and teamwork is the most rewarding aspect of my job. An award means that the film's story proved to be timely, its topic relevant, and, above all, that its execution was almost flawless! And I, of course, enjoy the red carpet a lot. 

In your opinion, what makes a “good” documentary? Alas, what are you looking for in a winning entry?

For me, the power of a “good” documentary lies in compelling characters with charisma with whom the viewer can connect emotionally. You can have the most exciting story idea, but the film will inevitably flop if your characters are dull and unconvincing. It works the other way, too. Sometimes, the story is not the most engaging, but nevertheless, it is still important and deserves to be told. A good character will help to rescue a somewhat uninspiring narrative.   

Do you have any tips production-wise for documentary filmmakers and potential entrants? 

Ask yourself what kind of film you would like to watch – it is a good place to start and will likely lead you to the right topic for your documentary. Set a good time to start the development of your treatment and let your curiosity wander far and wide. Look for relevant subject information in the most unlikely sources, apart from the obvious ones. You will likely stumble across an unusual idea to make your points in the film and discover unique characters. Remember that less is more, and be disciplined with your focus. Always have a plan B. More than anything else, tell yourself that you will make a great film!


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September 12, 2023

Call for Entries Announced for the 2024 US International Awards 

Celebrating Excellence in Video Production on a Global Stage

The prestigious US International Awards are thrilled to announce the official call for entries for the 2024 edition. As a platform for celebrating outstanding creativity and innovation in brand videos and documentaries, the US International Awards seek to honor exceptional storytellers, filmmakers, video creators, and creatives alike. The call for entries will run until February 16, 2024.

Film producers, agencies, client companies, and students are welcome to submit their creative work. Entrants can make submissions in over 100 categories within the main categories: Corporate Videos, Online & Social Media Videos, Documentaries & Reports, Independent Videos, Student Videos, and the additional Production Art & Craft categories.

Esteemed panels of judges are eager to witness unique perspectives and artistic brilliance and will evaluate the submissions based on their concept, objective, creative and technical excellence, and innovation.
The winners will be officially announced during an online Winner Announcement in June 2024. "We are excited to open the doors for entries for the 2024 US International Awards," said Alexander V. Kammel, Awards Director. "In a world where creativity knows no boundaries, these awards aim to spotlight those who have made extraordinary contributions in brand videos and documentaries."

All further information on the categories, entry fees and conditions of participation can be found at

About the US International Awards
The US International Awards honor the world’s best branded video productions and documentaries. The awards, formally named US International Film & Video Festival, have been taken over and re-branded in 2021 by Filmservice International, Europe’s biggest organizer of corporate film festivals. With the original festival having a fifty-five yearlong background within the industry of corporate videos and documentaries and the expertise of Filmservice International, the renewed US International Awards joyously start into this new era. 

Marlene Marcher
Awards Manager
US International Awards
Managed by Filmservice International
Schaumburgergasse 18
1040 Vienna, Austria